Why Prince William Is Speaking Out Against Billionaires Going To Space

William Shatner might have returned from his brief trip to space with a deeper appreciation for Earth, but it's a trip Britain's Prince William feels shouldn't been a priority for those who were funding it. "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live," he said on BBC's "Newscast" on October 14 (via BBC). "I think that ultimately is what sold it for me — that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future." 

William's comments were taken by media organizations, like Reuters, as a criticism of the world's billionaires, many of who have been trying to kick-start commercial space travel. In May, Tesla founder Elon Musk revealed that the reason he had established SpaceX was to establish a human base on Mars. "We don't want to be one of those single planet species, we want to be a multi-planet species," he told reporters after launching a group of astronauts into orbit, per CNBC

Fellow billionaires, Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who owns the aerospace company Blue Origin, haven't held back on the reason why they are promoting commercial space travel, either. As CBS' senior space consultant Bill Harwood put it, "The bottom line is they're selling the same thing. They're selling about three minutes of weightlessness and flights out of the atmosphere."

Prince William says space tourism has a carbon cost

During his interview with BBC's "Newscast," Prince William indicated he wasn't interested in going to space, because there was, in his mind, a "fundamental question" over the carbon impacts that commercial space jaunts are costing the planet. 

The Duke of Cambridge pressed that what is important to him now is leaving the earth a better place for the next generation. "I want the things that I've enjoyed — the outdoor life, nature, the environment — I want that to be there for my children, and not just my children but everyone else's children," he said (via ITV). "If we're not careful we're robbing from our children's future through what we do now. And I think that's not fair." He added that he hopes his son, Prince George, won't be speaking to reporters about the same issue when he's an adult. "By then we will be too late," he noted. 

Prince William's comments were made a few days ahead of the first-ever award ceremony for Earthshot Prize, his organization that encourages people to create solutions to the world's climate concerns. As of now, William has less than a decade to complete his goals. "The Earthshot Prize is centred around five 'Earthshots' – simple but ambitious goals for our planet which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for us all, for generations to come," the website reads.